Moving right along then

This post is somewhat self-serving. I make no apologies for that. I used my blog writing time this week to work my way through January's emotional low points. Read at your own risk.

Next week I'll be back to FIMBY's regular programming, you know, the Fun part of Fun in My Back Yard.


Historically, winter has been a hard time of year for me. This can be rough considering winter is a big part of yearly life in a northern climate. Each year I learn ways to deal with winter better. To really enjoy it and not dread it.

I practice gratitude (journaling, prayer). I seek and capture the stark, yet bright beauty of the season. I do my best to be active outdoors. I follow health and lifestyle recommendations for beating the winter blues.

I do believe that each winter is a little better than the last. Especially now that the kids are older and getting outside is less difficult.

For many winters our family has looked for a fun and keep-warm-enough winter activity to do outdoors together. I've chronicled our winter activity journey at Outsideways. We know this about ourselves and our family - we feel the best about life when we have a whole day outdoors together each week, plus our individual exercise on top of that during the week.

This has not been an "easy" practice to maintain in a culture like ours, where families tend to go every which way and organized sports reign supreme. But this is our way of connecting with each other and staying healthy. Two of our core values.

This winter we had an outdoor activity in the bag. We live at a ski hill. For the past couple years (even before we left Maine two years ago) we saved, scoured sales, and sold other things to purchase ski or snowboard gear for our whole family. Last fall we bought our early bird discount ski passes.

Skiing is on the schedule, but the weather does not always cooperate.

The snow this winter has been pathetic. We are at nature's mercy in this regard. As outdoor enthusiasts we realize we do not control nature, nor should we.

Two weeks ago Damien hurt his knee. Things happen. He is resting and is slowly recovering. We are making due with little snow and a not-so-active daddy, but making due was not what I wanted for this winter. It was not part of my plan. (Insert minor temper tantrum here.)

I invested a lot in the plan for this winter. A lot of emotional energy and financial resources. Financial resources that are tight to begin with.

(Confession: I have a really difficult time exercising if it's not fun. I don't feel bad about this. Some people love to push themselves physically. I am not one of those people. I exercise for the beauty of the outdoors, you will not find me on a treadmill. I exercise to be with my family. I exercise to get somewhere, like the top of a mountain. I exercise if it's fun or if there is an immediate purpose to be achieved.

I know what motivates me to exercise and we build our schedule around that. (You know you can do that.) Instead of trying to fit into what someone else says exercise should look like I do what works for me.

Skiing in the winter really works for me. At the beginning of January I was thrilled about how this winter was shaping up because I care about my health. I care about my physical, spiritual, emotional, and creative wellbeing. Vigorous outdoor physical activity really makes me more resilient and vibrant in all these areas. I was going to rock this winter.


I haven't had a full day in the mountains for three weeks. My usual physical and spiritual weekly recharge hasn't happened. Not to mention the low my husband experiences when he can't be as active as he likes. 

I wanted to thrive this winter, not just make it through! I think I'll stomp my feet here for emphasis.

I wasn't lying when I published this and this. Those were the plans. I wrote those posts when that was the reality. I'd like it to be the current reality also.


My kids are growing. Not just the kind of physical growth we expect from children (that surprises us anyway and shoots the grocery budget through the roof - again). My kids are separating from me. In little ways and bigger ways.

They always were separate from me. Obviously. But as littles they were also an extension of me. I haven't given myself the label of attachment parent, because I'm more authoritative in my parenting than most AP's I know, but attached I am! Big time.

I knew all along that my kids would detach themselves from me, and me from them, when the time was right. A childhood attached to mama's apron strings feels right. An adulthood attached to mama's apron (or purse) strings doesn't. Somewhere in between the child must start to walk her own journey. But when that starts, oh it is hard for the mama. It's hard for me.

I used to lead the show. Not so much any more. Damien plays a very active role now in day-to-day parenting and homeschooling. This is fabulous, it's what we've worked towards, but it's also hard for me to let go.

I used to invite my children to join me in my interests. Now they invite me to join in theirs. And these interests are leading me into new and unfamiliar territory. Oh, how I love the unfamiliar. (That's sarcasm in case you're a new reader and don't know already how much I struggle with the unknown).

This present journey reminds me actually of Damien leading our family years ago into regular hiking and outdoor activity. And now look where I am. Kind of scares me to think where my children's interests could take me. Larping my way across the continent.

Early this week I read this post on Katrina Kenison's blog. She was sharing guideposts in her mothering journey. It's a beautiful post, as all Katrina's writing is.

I am copying this quote from there:

“To look deep into your child’s eyes and see in him both yourself and something utterly strange, and then to develop a zealous attachment to every aspect of him, is to achieve parenthood’s self-regarding, yet unselfish, abandon.”

“We must love (our children) for themselves, and not for the best of ourselves in them, and that is a great deal harder to do. Loving our own children is an exercise in imagination.” – Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree

Loving our own children is an exercise in imagination. I cannot picture a better phrase for what I'm going through right now.

There are wonderful things happening in our family life as I pull back and let my children come into their own while still being very attached to me, when needed. (The need is less and less.) My roles and responsibilities are changing.


January was the first month in the history of our family life that my work contributed significantly to our household income. This was a pleasant surprise and not something I worked for directly last month but was the fruit of previous labors. Basically I sold a lot of ebooks both from our store and in ebook bundles.

The timing could not have been better as Damien's work was slower than normal last month. January's income earning distribution was an anomaly, it's not like this every month. We're still very much in the building phase of earning a location independent, family integrated livelihood. 

For months and months (the last couple years?) I have been wrestling with the kind of work I want to do. I have watched other women write books, teach courses, and sell products and wondered what my path will look like. I have experimented with different ideas.

My mission is to nourish, encourage and teach; build relationship and create beauty. Investing first in my family and then others.

I know (generally) the work I want to do. I know (mostly) who I am. Figuring out how to bring those two together, in the context of my family life, has been tricky.

My desire is to teach and encourage families to live in freedom. This is a hard fought truth in my own life (as you will see if you ever get to the end of this post). Freedom is foundational for creative, adventurous and joy-filled family life.

This message burns in me as I struggle through it myself.

I want to share these ideas in a very personal, but more affordable way than individual coaching. Relationship is not just a theoretical part of my mission statement, it's the basis for all the work I do.

I started working on my first ecourse in January. The ideas that have been brewing in me, that I have been writing about for the past couple years on the blog, and that I have been living through myself are pressing on me to be shared. Not just in random blog posts or one-on-one coaching calls but in a coherent fashion with practical application for families. This is what I want to teach!

These ideas feel like a seed just below the surface. The seed has germinated and is struggling to break free into the light. It's been struggling for a way to be expressed for many months now.

The problem is that my relationship based approach makes my work feel vulnerable and "unprofessional". And I start to doubt that I can do this.

When I am struggling emotionally or otherwise (like last month) I pull the plug on the things not absolutely necessary in my life. I do this so I can still (try to) be a present mom, wife, homemaker and homeschooler - those things I am called to first in my life. And right now my work is the first to go because it draws right from the core of me. I don't "put in time", I give my heart.

And yet when I am feeling good (and taking care of my physical, emotional, spiritual and creative needs), which is most of the time, I have the energy for this work. I have lots of energy.

This was my state at the beginning of January - high energy - and I thought, "oh, this is how it will come together. I will finally be able to share this message, in my strength." Ugh. You know where this is going.

Last weekend I was sharing this sentiment with Damien - my high hopes at the beginning of January and the weakness I felt at the end of January. He pointed out that it's not my perfection that qualifies me to teach (in which case we'd all be disqualified), it's my struggle. It's not my veneer but my vulnerability.

I still don't know how and when this seed will break through. If it will happen in the coming months, as I originally planned, or if it will wait for better growing conditions. Because my health, my home and my family always comes first.

If I have only so much energy to give, because I'm actually struggling through winter (see first section) and through family change (see second section), the limited energies I have will be directed to my family and self. Taking care of them, taking care of me. I just can't do it any other way.

I fear this disqualifies me from being the writer, teacher, and encourager I want to be. It feels like the reality of who I am (wholehearted and vulnerable) makes it hard to be like the work-at-home moms I admire. Those women who seem to "rise above" or are better at compartmentalizing their lives to steam forward.


I'm not done yet. (Don't even get me started about how I wish I could write more succinctly.) I feel a breakthrough coming and I'm going to write my way to that light.


Change is the constant in life. I like to box everything up, tuck in the loose ends and stand back to look at the "beauty" of this. Order. Nature does not work this way and our modern world certainly doesn't work this way either.

We live in a time of constant change. Big changes are always happening in the world outside our homes (economy, climate, governments) on top of the changes everyone simply goes through in normal life - birth, death, marriage, divorce, children, teenagers, empty nest, etc. I must learn to flex with the change and also raise my children for the reality of a world always in flux.

Some people say the pace of change is overwhelming for us humans. I agree, which is why I think creating sanctuaries of peace and stability (ie: homes) is so important.

Creating a strong home environment strengthens our resiliency to handle the change without and the change within. This is what I've worked for all these years as a homemaker. I am more resilient than I think I am. I am loved. I have the tools, and I have the freedom.

Two years ago we completely restructured our lives so we could better handle coming changes. Changes in the economy, changes in our children, changes in ourselves (to name just a few). We've built our lives to handle this change. So why do I fight it so much?

I'm living an old mindset (change is bad) in my new life. A life that can accommodate change - day to day, week to week. We are accountable only to ourselves, so why do I keep acting like we are stuck in a certain pattern? Good question.

I choose to live the freedom right in front of me. The freedom of our family life - to love, live and learn together through the changes.


There are many things I fear. I do not need to list them all here. January, with its plans gone awry reminded me again of a fear lesson that I would rather not learn.

I like to know, anticipate, and plan in order to avoid discomfort and pain - emotional, physical and otherwise. In the case of this winter I had carefully constructed a plan because I don't like feeling the winter blahs or winter blues. I fear a downward emotional spiral (and there is a family history of this for me to add to my anxiety) if I don't carefully construct my life to avoid that.

This is how I manage my fear of the unknown (or known) - I carefully construct my life to avoid the pitfalls. This works in some regards. I have saved myself a lot of heartache by making some good choices. But taken to the extreme this is a false belief. I cannot plan and organize my life to avoid hardship.

I want to avoid struggle, avoid low points, avoid conflict. I eat healthy to do my best to prevent disease. I parent with respect and kindness so as to build and grow friendship with my children. I set up boundaries and routines in my life to create peace and order in our home.

But there are no guarantees in any of this.

I've made some decisions along the way that have contributed to having a wonderful life. But these decisions did not guarantee anything. And that's scary. I can't control the outcome.

And so I need to let go. Again and again. Make plans, trust, live, let go. Repeat.

I choose to live the freedom right in front of me. The freedom to let go and not be in control. The freedom to trust Someone else with that responsibility.


I am insecure about my work in the world, some days and months more than others. I fear (there it is again) that I can't be the writer, teacher, and encourager I want to. I fear my heart is too open, my writing too vulnerable, my emotions too volatile. But I can't do this any other way. This how I live. This is who I am.

The road is not clearly marked. And so I look to other online creative mompreneurs to see how they do it. I look to them too much.

This journey reminds me of being a new mother. It took me a lot of trial and error before I found my mother confidence. Before I knew my mothering style.

To help me find my way I ended up turning off as many outside voices as possible (it was easier then since there were no blogs, only books, magazines and web "pages"). I stopped reading parenting books and instead listened to close friends, my children and husband and figured out what worked for me.

In trying to figure out how to mother and homeschool there was (and is) a lot of trial and error. I've grown used to this. I accept it as part of the journey. None of these efforts are wasted. Even the parenting or homeschooling ideas I've tried that didn't stick or didn't work were not in vain. They've helped me find the path that did work.

I know I must do the same in this next stage of my life's work. I just wish I had the confidence already. The confidence that only comes from experience.

Comparing myself to other creative working moms just gives me a bad case of "not enough-itis". I don't have enough time, enough resources, enough connections, enough readers, enough marketing prowess, enough emotional reservation, enough, enough, enough!

Whatever it is, I don't have enough of it.

What a lie.

You want to know who's work I should emulate? No one's.

Who's schedule I should copy? No one's.

Who's definition of success I should seek? No one's.

Who's goals I should pursue? No one's.

I rail against a herd mentality in homeschooling and family living. I fight society's measures of success. They don't represent who I am or our family values. And yet I apply a "comparison" mentality to my work. Measuring myself against the work of others. Wishing I had more resolve or more reserve. More something...

I want to build a livelihood, as I have a family life, on relationship and connection, not numbers or demographics. This requires a certain vulnerability.

Years ago, I grew my mother confidence when I stopped comparing my success, my schedule, and my productivity to other moms. I nurtured what I wanted to grow - relationships and a healthy home life.

I trust the same will happen with my work. That I will grow in confidence as I nurture the things that matter most to me in my work, and that these choices will be financially viable. (That's the real kicker.) It's happening already. If I could just step out of my insecurity to see it and appreciate it.

I choose to live the freedom right in front of me. The freedom to be exactly who I am and to work from this reality.


Mary Oliver asks:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Doesn't wild and precious give you butterflies in your stomach?

I plan to live in freedom. I plan to share that freedom. I plan to hold plans lightly.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« Taking some time to write
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  • Michelle

    Michelle on Feb. 8, 2013, 4:10 p.m.

    Renee, when you said that your vulnerability will keep you from being an effective teacher/encourager I think you got it wrong. Because of it you will be able to be a better teacher because you have experienced these low points yourself. You'll be better able to empathize with those you are seeking to help. Being vulnerable, having struggles of your own and working through them, that is what makes you real and qualifies you to help those who seek your expertise. If you didn't face any struggle how would you know what ideas and strategies could help in the first place? Keep on as you are and as I have always tried to teach my children, above all trust your instincts.


  • Sarah M

    Sarah M on Feb. 8, 2013, 4:18 p.m.

    " I cannot plan and organize my life to avoid hardship."

    Ouch. I didn't really want to hear that, either, but it's definitely a struggle I have; control.

    This is very apparent in our current state, as we are downsizing (about 30-40%) of the things we own, packing up the rest, selling what we can, fixing things like utility stop dates, do taxes, cleaning up our rental, planning a birthday party (long story, kind of ridiculous), seeing our friends and family as much as possible, and just trying to live life and put food on the table! We had 4.5 weeks to do all this, and we have 1 week left. There are too many things left to do for my liking, and I'm starting to feel really pressured (although I'm an extremely productive person, I don't like to be rushed). I don't like it when I can't control all this, and I hate living in chaos. I'm a neat desk person. My desk is filled to the brim with mess. I have doubling emotions of anxiety about getting everything done, missing people, and uncontainable excitement for the next 2 weeks (when we travel and arrive). It's all so strange, not having control when I work so diligently to have it, and yet simultaneously so excited to leave and begin our new journey.

    I really, really appreciated this post from you. It felt really true, and although I can't relate to the detachment phase (though a girl can dream, right?! kidding), I definitely understand the rest. I would love to someday be one of your first members of your e-course, because I have your recordings, and I love them, and I know this next project would be just as encouraging and inspiring to me. I have found a lot of words of freedom here (not just today, but a lot today) and that's why I keep coming back. I need to hear it all the time, to believe it.

    Hope the snow and injuries are kind to you in the next couple months. Sarah M


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 8, 2013, 4:28 p.m.

      Sarah, I need to hear it too. Which is why I write it (smile). And hon - you're going to get through this. It's going to be hard but you will come through the other side. And what's a huge move without a birthday party thrown in for good measure! One more thing - I feel the better attached our kids are to us, the easier the detachment is - for them. They are so secure. And it's us mamas who are quaking in our boots and mourning the lose in our hearts even as we rejoice to see them become their own person. It's such a beautiful journey. All those years breastfeeding, sleeping close, limited childcare and everything else we do to hold our children's hearts close is worth it. 


  • whitney

    whitney on Feb. 8, 2013, 5:12 p.m.

    i read through this post, slowly, twice. in days ahead, i hope to come back and leave a more articulate comment. for the time being, i can only say that it is exactly this kind of "not fun" FIMBY post, and not those on soap making or lotion, which first drew me to your blog and then to your business, renee. it is to read and to hear your heart that draws my heart here as well.


  • Lori C

    Lori C on Feb. 8, 2013, 5:36 p.m.

    Wow. This post. I've been following your blog for about a year, and I often think "Took the words right out of my mouth" (so to speak...) But this one is uncanny. We share many of the same aspirations and fears. Maybe these are universal? I don't know. I do know that I greatly appreciate your ability to share your heart with your readers. I admire your honesty about your struggles.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 8, 2013, 5:47 p.m.

      I think so. I think fear, uncertainty, change, growing, insecurity ARE universal and so much of honest writing and blogging is about those themes because those are themes of life along with beauty, joy, freedom, love etc.


  • Katie

    Katie on Feb. 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

    Renee, this post is incredible. I'm still soaking in your wisdom. Fear? No... I see so much bravery in this post. You have poured your heart into the open, put it in words, and hit "publish". I can't tell you how much admiration I have. You are such a role model to me.


  • Sarah Westphal

    Sarah Westphal on Feb. 8, 2013, 7:23 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing all of it. Every word. I will need to re-read this post to let it all better sink in. YOU. ARE. QUALIFIED. This reminds me when I heard Brene Brown's TED talk about how her and the other talkers were there due to failure. Being vulnerable enough to fail, fail, fail, then finally succeed through multiple failures. I think that is life, isn't it? Though not many people discuss the road of failure before their success. Yet it is there. Wow. I just loved your post. By being vulnerable enough to be the true you, what freedom others feel to truly be themselves. It's not easy though. I could hug you right now! Keep doing what you are doing. Prayers and encouragement to you and yours, Sarah (from NB)


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Feb. 8, 2013, 8:50 p.m.

    I love this: "Years ago, I grew my mother confidence when I stopped comparing my success, my schedule, and my productivity to other moms. I nurtured what I wanted to grow"

    Thank you for being open and honest.


  • anexactinglife

    anexactinglife on Feb. 9, 2013, 12:24 a.m.

    It sounds like you deeply know your path and your priorities, but feel concerned that the economics of it might not be quite right. I bet you will find a way to make it right.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 3:10 a.m.

      I'm trusting the economics will work and also, there's more going on behind the scenes than I am able to have time to write about and I think, in the end, all together, it will work. Also, thank you for the blog award you mentioned in your other comment. I really appreciate it. 


  • denise

    denise on Feb. 9, 2013, 1:42 a.m.

    oh goodness - what she said above was so true for me. I followed up your comment on Erin's blog but wanted to comment here too. I agree that you totally know your path and priorities. I also feel strongly that you will come through this stronger than ever. You were so right when you told me I didn't fail because I learned. I did learn a lot about myself, one being that self-promotion is not my thing and two I don't do well with too much time alone. I need to be around people. You are so brave opening up yourself here - I admire that in you.

    I certainly would love to go on a hike with you someday. I would enjoy the conversation we would have. You are awesome and you are loved Renee. Take good care.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 3:17 a.m.

      Thanks Denise and I would love to go hiking with you also, though right now I'd prefer skiing (smile). I don't particularly like self promotion but the only way I can do this work is if I get more comfortable with that aspect. I work remotely. Period. I would be hard pressed to even find a job locally if I wanted seeing as how I'm not bilingual. I have to be able to advertise myself but I'm learning how to do that in a way that feels right for me. Based on relationship with people. I've thought about it a lot and have compared myself to others way too much. I'm getting more and more confident all the time with saying "this is how I will do it". And it might not be big but it doesn't need to be. It just needs to be enough.  I've really enjoyed the Marie Forleo resources and her free B school promo videos. It's totally changed the way I look at "marketing". Also, I enjoyed the book The Art of Earning by Tara Gentile.  Just figuring it out as I go.


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Feb. 9, 2013, 2:07 a.m.

    I'm thinking along the same lines as the commenter above named Whitney - a post like today's is what made me become a Fimby reader. You are MORE THAN QUALIFIED to be a "writer, teacher, and encourager". :)

    (How did I find you over a year ago? I think I Googled "vegetarian backpacking food" and found Outsideways -which was not so-named at the time - and from there found Fimby! And you had posted a song, by Edward Sharpe, with a great packrafting video, that became a family favorite here!

    Though our daily lives are so different, our hearts are so similar. I so appreciate your openness about your struggles. You writings about them, along with all your other types of posts, and beautiful photos, give me soooo much food for thought. (And led me to tell my hubby to use your hubby for web-design, which we are so happy with, BTW).

    Sometimes when I read your posts about your struggles I feel guilty, like I need to be there in real life to see your face and share a hug and some coffee! But since I am 3,500 miles away, it isn't likely to happen any time soon. I just want you to know that in sharing your story YOU make a difference in a Mom/Wife/Woman across the continent! (((Hugs)))


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 3:08 a.m.

      Thank you Nicole! We enjoyed working with you also (it was a family endeavor on our end with some of my photography and of course Laurent's artwork). And that Edwarde Sharpe song in one of our favs especially since we don't have a strong sense of "home" in the geographic location sense.


  • Wanda

    Wanda on Feb. 9, 2013, 6:36 a.m.

    Renee, Thank you for your blog. Thank you for your beautiful pictures. The sun shining in on your family doing life is inspiring. I am so thankful that my search for 'kitchen cabinets' found your little home on the internet over a year ago. I don't live my family life like yours much (different stage etc..) except that that the truth you preach resonates deeply with me. Your priorities of family and self-wellness and self-care are helpful and real. REAL. And speak much truth in my life and family. Thanks for sharing your heart.


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Feb. 9, 2013, 6:55 a.m.

    I just love how you pour out your heart, yet maintain professionalism in your blog at the same time. I can only imagine that that is a reflection of how you mother and how you work, with a whole, passionate heart, while also with a distinct, motivated spirit. Thanks for the inspiration, as always. xo


  • Sarah

    Sarah on Feb. 9, 2013, 9 a.m.

    You do a wonderful job building relationships. I believe that your vulnerability is what leads to the relationships. I don't doubt that that idea is frightening. And I don't doubt that vulnerability feels unprofessional (because in our culture, professionalism is often the idea of separating "life" and "work"; "who we are" from "what we do"). You are trying to do the difficult thing (but what feels authentic to you) by blending the two. But I don't doubt it that your readers love your work because it is raw, vulnerable, inspiring, and beautiful. As I've said before, we live very different lives, (and I live a very different life from your children) but it is your ability to share your (unconventional, intentional) journey that has drawn me to your writing and has made me feel connected. Thank you for that gift. On your piece about "separation" from children: I have always been independent. I always come back to my family, though. They are my roots and my "home" and I think that my entire family feels that way. We aren't family oriented in the way that your family is (partly because, during her childhood, my mom found the most love and support outside of her family)... "quality family time" is not a word you would hear in our house. Even with this different structure of time, though, we are all very close. You probably know this, but sometimes it helps to hear things you already know: independence does not mean the end of connection or friendship... it certainly does not mean the end of love. My parents cry every year on the first day of school... and when we go away to camp. But they are also excited for the journeys our independence will lead us on. They are parents.


  • paulafrombelgium

    paulafrombelgium on Feb. 9, 2013, 9:21 a.m.

    As you must learn french, i'm going to write in french.

    Cet article était merveilleux. Je me suis reconnue dans votre état d'esprit, dans vos peurs, votre insecurité, dans la peur du changement. Je n'aime pas l'hiver, et je me bat chaque année contre le blues de l'hiver. Je vis pour le moment une situation similaire. Mon mari a des difficultés professionneles et je dois me lancer afin de nourrir ma famille. Je me sens anxieuse et stressée par les choses que je ne peux pas contrôler.

    Votre article m'a fait beaucoup de bien. Je vous souhaite bon courage, et Merci pour cette lumière dans la pénombre.

    A bientôt



    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 1:31 p.m.

      Paula, Je comprend! Je comprend votre le Français et votre coeur. Merci pour le "comment". (I don't know what that is en Francais). If you want to comment again sometime I would love if you comment in French. It's a great learning opportunity for me, as long as you keep your thoughts fairly simple, like you did in this comment. It's much easier for me to read and understand French than it is to write it. But I can try little by little. I must try. Merci beaucoup Paula. A bientôt.


  • Jess

    Jess on Feb. 9, 2013, 9:35 a.m.

    What is there to say that already hasn't been shared, verbalized, penned in one manner or another. Every evening as we kiss our girls and help usher them into a night of hopeful rest we lay our hands upon them and offer a blessing. That they may they be open to receive the already available peace of God, the love of God, the strength of God, the joy of God and the omnipotent presence of God - from the very tops of their heads down to the tips of their toes. This blessing I lavishly bathe my thoughts for you in. Your words are true to the word "gift".


  • LisaZ

    LisaZ on Feb. 9, 2013, 3:54 p.m.

    I haven't read the entire post yet, and I will, but I just have to jump in here and comment on this juxtaposition you've made in the first half. This feeling of your children detaching and you needing to let go, and then you having a month where for the first time you contribute significantly to the family income. How amazing to me to see this from an objective viewpoint! These two things SO go hand in hand. You are finding your new work little by little as you detach a bit from the children, and God/Universe is supporting you in that by showing you some abundance in it. Isn't that wonderful?

    I need to see that because I am going through nearly the exact same struggles/challenges/changes/growth period. It is all those things, for sure! I decided a couple of years ago when my son started adolescence, that the hardest thing about teen-ager-hood for parents is that we've spent years learning to be available at all times to our children, to attach and sacrifice our own selves for their sake. Then suddenly, they don't want us all the time! It's jarring, to say the least.

    Thank you so much, Renee, for writing about raising teens and being a voice for this period of time in a woman's life. I appreciate it so much.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 5:12 p.m.

      Lisa, you are humbly welcome. I am just one voice, of many mamas, writing and raising teens. Writing while living it. Something I didn't do (public writing that is) while I was raising babies. My writing those days was in private journals where I poured out my joys, fears, struggles and love. I think I would have liked a public blog in those days to connect with like minded mamas, the way blogging connects me now to women going through the same thing. But what I like  about public writing at this stage is that I have a bit more time in my days to spend longer on my thoughts and to try to improve as a writer, while getting my thoughts out there. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Just thinking how my public writing would have been different when my kids were babes.  And I loved what you said in the first paragraph. I have noticed that and I appreciate your objective observation also. A trusting and a confirmation of sorts, but it's still scary for me. The unknown territory in both parenting and working. Gulp.


  • Tonya

    Tonya on Feb. 9, 2013, 4 p.m.

    Renee, I appreciate how you are "real" - how you are vulnerable and share the highs and lows of life, but even more so, the process of life. It truly is a process of becoming and just when we have reached a new goal, it is probably time to become all over again. Thanks for being you and not following along with so many other creative mom ebook types - yours is the only one I read regularly just because you are you.
    i admire how much you invest in your children, your family, and seem to keep your priorities in order. You have inspired me to blog a bit about my own struggles I have had this past month or two. I would welcome an ecourse from you! Wishing many blessings for the remainder of this month, Tonya


  • LisaZ

    LisaZ on Feb. 9, 2013, 4:23 p.m.

    quote: "Last weekend I was sharing this sentiment with Damien - my high hopes at the beginning of January and the weakness I felt at the end of January. He pointed out that it's not my perfection that qualifies me to teach (in which case we'd all be disqualified), it's my struggle. It's not my veneer but my vulnerability."

    Those are some beautiful words of wisdom Damien gave you.

    You have NO idea, I think, how much you help others by sharing your vulnerability in this way. It amazes me how you and I are so different in personality and yet our life philosophies (as you outline so well in this post), our responses to challenge and change, and our fears are so very similar. I am going through so much of this exact same thing it's scary weird how you give voice to it!

    The Bible verse I keep remembering when I'm afraid and feel vulnerable is "Perfect love casts out fear."

    I like this New Living Translation of it, 1 John 4:18:

    "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love."

    I don't know if that helps you but for some reason it always pops into my head and helps me when I'm afraid.


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 9, 2013, 5:24 p.m.

      Lisa, thank you for sharing scripture with me. You know how much that means to me. I too think of that verse, sometimes daily. And that is why I want so much to be rooted in love and relationship. Not rooted in routines or things or money but in love. (smile) Are we feeling warm and cozy yet?


  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Feb. 9, 2013, 5:56 p.m.

    I'm catching up this morning on your last few blog posts. Everyone else in the comments has said what I would like to say, but I did want to reiterate what Damien told you - that your vulnerability and sharing weaknesses and struggles is what draws people to you. Our weaknesses and the struggles of our life stories are what help others feel like they can relate to us. Our stories are powerful, even, maybe especially, the painful parts. Understanding this has been one reason I've been able to give myself permission to write as a career (fledgling right now.)


  • Gina

    Gina on Feb. 10, 2013, 2:06 p.m.

    I related so much to your writing of your frear of a downward spiral if you didn't structure your life to avoid it. i have an illness that flares up when I am over-extended or too stressed and find that I live in fear of this happening. I sometimes avoid situations in life for fear it will be too much. Also, when I am over-extended I beat myself up mentally for not having planned better. While I know this fear isn't healthy it is difficult to not feel it. I have gotten more skilled at planning my weeks spreading out my tasks and parenting responsibilities evenly, even allowing a little time for creative work and it has helped. I was inspired by your time blocks suggestions as it helped me to be more realistic about the time I actually have available. I feel I speak for all of your readers when I say we appreciate your honesty and vulnerability. I too can be a little obsessed with how well I think other mom bloggers are organizing their lives and how I fall short. But in all of these blogs it is just a taste of their true family lives which are likely just as unpredictable as everyone else's. Thank you for your inspiration and solidarity. You seem to be just where you should be on your path. I join you on this difficult learning curve of trust and faith.


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Feb. 11, 2013, 4:54 a.m.

    I just keep nodding in agreement to what you write hear (attachment changing, food bills growings with kids eating tons, excercising has to be fun, vulnerability, control, fear, yes, yes, yes... I hear ya sister). You are on the right track. Keep plowing along. Winter is good at allowing us lots of time and darkness to explore and clean our inside (maybe this is why I escape it after 5 years of Yukon winters...?).

    It feels to me that you are going through an important metamorphosis this winter (that started 2 years ago probably)... and aren't we always morphing anyways... God this is tiring, isn't it?


  • Susan

    Susan on Feb. 11, 2013, 6:59 p.m.

    Renee, I feel like I have so much to say after reading this post but to keep it short and sweet I just want to say thank you for writing this. It is these kinds of posts that keep me coming back to FIMBY. I am going thru a difficult time in my life right now and I can relate to much of what you wrote about. Thank you for sharing with us.


  • DL

    DL on Feb. 26, 2013, 4:33 p.m.

    Renee: I am new to your blog and find it interesting that I find this post on the second anniversary of my daughter's wedding. The Lord has given me such a rejoicing heart in this precious marriage but my heart still aches for the season of life when my daughter lived home. Our oldest son too is married and our youngest works full time. I am no longer a homeschool mom but have two adorable grandbabies and consider myself a homeschool grandmother.

    My husband and I have so loved being parents and do miss the active parenting years. Get used to the heart pangs as your children grow up, they do not go away but they are made softer by the new children added to your family through marriage and by the hugs and kisses of grandchildren.

    When I look back at more than 23 years of home teaching there are many things I wish I had done differently but God is so merciful to use our inadequacies to accomplish His purposes. My oldest son said something once that has helped me tremendously with any comparisons. He told me I was the best mother for him. I don't need to worry about being the best mother anymore because God made me the best mother for my children even with my faults and failings.


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